Thank you all so much for the warm welcome back to the blogosphere. You are all so kind!
I just have to tell you more about the cruise.
When I was on the cruise ship I was working long hours but not so long that I couldn’t enjoy some time at Salt Grill. Salt Grill is one of Luke Mangan‘s restaurants that has been opened on three of the P&O ships.
The space on the Pacific Dawn that is now Salt used to be a pizza place. It has been totally refurbished and is now a sophisticated room with dark polished floors, billowing curtains, a great wine list and a touch of blue glass. All meals on board the P&O ships is included in the tariff however at Salt a $40 cost per person is charged with drinks being an additional fare. This may seem expensive (compared with ‘free’) but given the quality and in comparison with Glass in Sydney or Palace in Melbourne, it’s a bargain.
The tables are fixed to the floor so that in huge swells they remain in position. Although paramount for safety this does make the restaurant fairly inflexible when it comes to bookings as we were a party of 12 and they couldn’t join two tables together so we had to sit at two separate tables but they were close together.
I sat next to Matt who is from Melbourne and very much enjoys his wines, particularly full-bodied reds and so he really appreciated the extensive list of quality Australian reds. He ordered the Penfolds 389 from 2000 and something-or-other, said he’d pay for it and asked if I would like to share it. I just smiled and nudged my glass towards him.
And there was a lot of ceremony regarding the wine because it was brought to Matt for his approval, then decanted, then offered to taste, then finally poured into beautiful long-stemmed glasses.
Freshly baked bread in several varieties was brought out and served with Luke Mangan olive oil and balsamic vinegar and dukkah.
What you do notice upon entering the restaurant and then throughout the dining experience is that product placement isn’t subtle. It’s blatant. You are in no doubt as to whose restaurant this is and the centre page of the menu is dedicated to the merchandise you can buy including cookbooks, aprons, oils and vinegars.
For an entree I had the char-grilled quail with zucchini, currants, pinenuts and basil. It was one of the loveliest entrees I have ever had and went beautifully with the wine. (Actually everything went well with the wine).
The mains are predominantly steak or fish and after making your choice you select the sauce you’d like to have with your meal. I chose the eye fillet with bearnaise sauce and the steak was beautifully cooked but it was beyond well-rested as the heat had left it and it was cold to eat.
Desserts are famous in this restaurant and I did want to try the licorice parfait but my wine-drinking friend selfishly didn’t order it because he wanted the chocolate tasting plate and I had already chosen the floating island so I can’t tell you anything about that most well-known dessert. Next time!
The six of us ordered a dessert each and then realised no one had ordered the cheese platter so we ordered that as well as a centre piece. It arrives as a bit of theatre with a trolley being rolled up to you and the platter being plated in front of you.
We were fortunate that night in that the sea was extremely calm and the boat barely rocked making for a very pleasant evening in stunning surrounds. For $40/head it did seem very good value and the menu was modern and innovative, the setting stylish, the service attentive without being intrusive and I would happily eat there again – if only to make sure I tried the licorice parfait.